Clearwater Forest is a ministry of Christ called to provide faith-building Christian programming, nurture an active Christian community, and be a faithful steward of God’s creation. At Clearwater Forest we aim to change lives in God’s woods & waters.
Clearwater is a magical place both in presence and in spirit.
It is a place where people come to sing, celebrate, worship, and play together. It is a place of acceptance that encourages people to find their commonalities and embrace their differences. It is a place where campers can try new things and learn new skills without fear of safety or judgment. It is a place where young adults guide and nurture campers into future leaders. It is over 1,000 acres of mostly unspoiled forest and lakeshore, where kayaking, canoeing and water sports are a way of life.
Most of all, Clearwater Forest is a place where many feel closest to God and free to connect with their spirituality.
Who we are
Year Round Staff
Get to know our dedicated directors and full-time staff who help run Clearwater Forest year round!
Board of Directors
Get to know the volunteers who are dedicated to Clearwater Forest on our Board of Directors!
The property of Clearwater Lake was first developed in the early 1920′s by John A. Savage of Duluth. Originally of Nashua, New Hampshire, John Savage made his fortune in the iron ore mining industry, owning the Croft and Sagamore Mines on the Cuyuna Range (Crosby, MN) and the Draper Mine on the Mesabi Range. The Croft Mine is now a Minnesota State Park Museum. John Savage, his wife Mary, and their five sons spent their summers at the Clearwater Lake property for 30 years. John Savage called the main house, now known as Eagle Lodge, “Eagle Beak” and he and Mary referred to the whole place as “the farm”. The Savage family owned and used the Clearwater Lake estate until shortly after John’s sudden death in the Summer of 1954.
The property, at that time about 612 acres, and it’s extraordinary stone buildings were purchased in October of 1954 by the Synod of Minnesota of the United Presbyterian Church. Subsequent acquisitions of land helped Clearwater Forest to reach its current size of 1,016.5 acres. The Presbyterian acquisition of the property was in large part due to the involvement of Ernest and Jessie Hallett of Crosby, Minnesota. Ernest Hallett, a very successful entrepreneur, helped to initiate the decision making process by the Synod and he also donated $10,000 toward the purchase. The Halletts continued to be primary benefactors of Clearwater Forest, donating over $100,000 to build the Hallett Dining Hall in 1961.
In 1981, Clearwater Forest came under the ownership of Presbyterian Clearwater Forest, Inc., a corporation owned by five governing bodies of the Presbyterian Church (USA), including the Presbyteries of the Twin Cities Area, Minnesota Valleys, Northern Waters, Northern Plains, and also the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. This corporate partnership still owns and shepherds Clearwater Forest today.
Since 1954, Clearwater Forest has served as a summer camp and retreat center, and many thousands of people have had joyful and impactful experiences here. While the programs, services, and facilities have evolved greatly over the years, the basic usage is still the same. Clearwater Forest offers 40-50 different programs for children, youth, families and adults. Young people from over 100 different Presbyterian Churches attend camps every summer. Nearly 4,000 people participate in Clearwater Forest programming each year.
In 1995, Clearwater Forest simultaneously constructed a new retreat lodge for adult use and a new summer youth camp. The new lodge, called Leaning Tree Lodge, provides year-round accommodations for groups up to 32 guests. The new summer camp provides an outstanding setting for Christian programming.